Friday, april 1st 2022

Breakfast and registration 9-10 a.m.

10:00-10:15 a.m.

Welcome by the organizers


10:15 a.m.–10:40 a.m.

The 16-year era of Angela Merkel: A chancellorship to be remembered

Temitope Dorcas Adetoyese (Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France)

The phenomenal figure of Angela Merkel has shown the extent to which political leadership has become degendered in recent decades by her act of reliability, responsibility, and the impact of female leadership. Merkel is the first German chancellor to resign at her own request and without the political pressure familiar at the time of her predecessors.

Since 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel has been praised as well as denounced for her bold decisions, one of which was how she opened her country to an extraordinary influx of refugees from Northern Africa and the Middle East with the aim of turning the nation united into a land of immigration and integration. “We can do it” was Angela Merkel’s usual defiant response in times of crisis and she encouraged her country people to believe “wir schaffen das”. She did not just say “wir schaffen das” once; she repeated it again and again. With the phrase she has encouraged the German people to unitedly manage and sail through difficult moments.

Angela Merkel is known to be hardworking, cautious, and perfectly masters her material. There is no doubting her austerity and probity. She will be remembered for standing tall when her values were challenged.

By examining relevant literature in my paper, I will address the following:

  • The invention and use of the verb merkeln

  • Becoming Mutti Merkel: Wir schaffen das!

10:45 a.m.–11:10 a.m.

"Hat sie geweint?" Merkel's last move to provoke reasonable sympathy from German citizens

Anna Malin Gerke (University of Washington in Seattle)

After the broadcast of the "Zapfenstreich", the official farewell from the Chancellor's office, this was the number one topic in the media: Angela Merkel was moved to tears! After 16 years in the Chancellery, Merkel concludes with a development that has only become more prominent in recent years during the pandemic: herrhetorical tool of affect.

This contribution pays particular attention to a speech that stands out from all those we have heard from world leaders ever since the pandemic began. On December 9, 2020, Angela Merkel was close to tears when she addressed the population directly with a Covid Christmas warning and gives an impassionate call for tighter coronavirus restrictions. In terms of speech act analysis, however, it is striking that there are no directly declarative actsin this speech, but predominantly emotional ones. As a matter of fact, Merkel's rhetoric illustrates the aforementioned change in her political leadership: In this speech she is leaving behind her calm rhetoric, and instead, she isopenly struggling before her citizens in the face of defeat. Internationally, Merkel receives positive feedback on her emotionality as this is understood as direct, lively and emotional crisis communication andpraised assuch. I contend, however, that this speech exemplifies a shift in Merkel's political leadership that disguisedher own sovereignty and ratheraimed at eliciting reason-led sympathy from the citizens. I claim that this speech in particular invites us to review Merkel's politics from new perspectives, namely affect theory andlinguistic speech act theory of perlocutionary effects.

11:15 a.m.–11:40 a.m.

"Burn the Witch": A Study of Online Incivility, Framing and Media Reinforcement Theory in the German Federal Elections

Sheila B. Lalwani (University of Texas at Austin)

Hopes ran high that more women would ascend to the highest levels of government in Germany in the months preceding the recent federal elections to succeed the country’s first-ever female chancellor. In the 16 years that Chancellor Angela Merkel dominated German politics, the prevailing sentiment was that gender discrimination in German electoral politics was a relic of the past. These sentiments proved false when the only female candidate, German Green Party candidate and early frontrunner, Annalena Charlotte Alma Baerbock, finished last in the six-way race. It was widely believed that she had been the sole victim of a sexist online trolling campaign on Twitter. This paper uses the Baerbock campaign as a focal point to consider online incivility against women seeking elected office and reconsiders the dominant wisdom that Merkel and her history making victories would pave a path for future female candidates in Germany. This work provides a textual analysis of Twitter and investigates expressions of online incivility throughout Merkel’s 16-year reign and during the most recent German federal election period from April to October 2021, the duration of the campaign of Annalena Baerbock, The frames analyzed are likeability, balance between issue-related coverage (issue frame) and gendered coverage (trivialization frame).The primary methodology used is a content analysis of Twitter. Results show a gender bias that eluded male candidates, but that factors besides gender possibly influenced the reactions and that it remains too early to declare that gender is not a factor in the treatment of candidates on Twitter.

Lunch Break 11.45 a.m.–12.15 p.m.

12:30 p.m.–12:55 a.m.

Contesting the Refugee Narrative: Denial, Delay, and Disruption in Abbas Khider’s Der falsche Inder and Christian Petzold’s Transit

Elizabeth Sun (University of California, Berkeley)

“For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live.”
-- Theodor Adorno

For the refugee characters of Abbas Khider’s 2008 debut novel, Der falsche Inder, and Christian Petzold’s 2018 drama film, Transit, serendipitous encounters with manuscripts become passageways to a new identity and life, evoking a psychosomatic interpretation of Adorno’s metaphor of exile. Writing becomes a site and practice of transformationthroughwhich the refugee protagonists regain the capacity to live. Until then, these characters exist in a state of continuous delayand disruption.

What makes Transit and Der falsche Inder important aesthetic contributions to discourses on refugee studiesand Europe’s migration crisisis that they not only reject dominant refugee narratives, but actively reconstruct them. Both works show that, despite their resistance to an immersive viewing experience (via voiceover, frame narration, interdiegetic interruptions), the disrupted stories they present are more representative than the standard feel-good refugee narrative, in which an asylum seeker finds safe haven in a more politically stable regime after an arduous journey. On the contrary, the refugee’s story is one that does not achieve narrative completion.

Through stylistic and narrative features that depart from the realist traditions of cinema and literature, Transit and Der falsche Inder mobilize a critical attitude towards established forms of narration and legal personhood. These works’ disrupted and delayed narrative structures reveal a more authentic picture of the refugee’s life—one of continuous deferral, repeated disruptions, and the denial of narrative completion and full personhood.

1 p.m.–1:25 p.m.

What It Means to Be German under Merkel's Government: Autobiographies of Soccer Celebrities Lukas Podolski and Mesut Özil

Sabine Waas (University of Texas at Austin)

Under the term of Angela Merkel, the integration of immigrants started to be defined as a policy aim, when BAMF (Bundesamt für und Flüchtlinge) became responsible for the integration of migrants. Sports and soccer in particular became one way for migrants and their children to integrate into society, as initiatives like “Integration durch Sport” and “Mehr Migrantinnen in den Sport” show. Soccer, the most popular and globalized sports in the world, contributes to the creation of not only global but also national, regional, and local identities. It has long served an important role in national identification and acculturation in (West) Germany, as the Wunder von Bernand the Sommermärchen signify. It serves, according to migration researcher Mark Terkessidis, as a social spectacle that shows society a more or less perfect version of itself.

With Lukas Podolski (Dranbleiben! (2014)) and Mesut Özil (Die Magie des Spiels (2017)) German soccer players with a migration background, a term referring to people who themselves or one of their parents did not acquire German citizenship at birth, found their voice in autobiographies. Such soccer players have triggered debates about who is considered “German.”

This paper will unravel the ways in which German soccer players with a migration background such as Lukas Podolski and Mesut Özil present themselves in their autobiographies. More precisely, I compare their self-portrayal with their depictions in the media, films, songs, and social media in order to answer the question what it meansto be German.

Coffee Break 1:30 p.m.–1:45 p.m.

2 p.m.–2:50 p.m.

Keynote: Goodbye Mutti: Spectres of East German Culture and the Legacy of Angela Merkel

Dr. Nicole G. Burgoyne (University of Chicago)

The current war in Ukraine can make Angela Merkel’s tenure as chancellor of Germany seem part of the distant past. The intricacies of her diplomatic relationship with Vladimir Putin have been swept away as Germany formulates a new foreign policy under its new coalition government in response to this crisis. Might other aspects of Angela Merkel’s legacy, such as her decision to close down nuclear power stations in Germany, be as quickly overturned? This presentation will examine the East German cultural context that informed Merkel’s energy policy as well as her identity as Germany’s first female chancellor. The reconstruction of the trope of mother and housewife in East German popular culture will be explored in Angela Merkel’s choice of pop music at her final public ceremony. Ultimately, a nuanced composite of home and work emerges in a person who will certainly prove a touchstone for years to come.

Reception 3 p.m.– 4 p.m.